Estimated reading time: 5 mins
There are so many different ways that we can share ideas and knowledge. One of the most effective is giving talks. If your idea isn’t something people hear every day or is breakthrough, then your talk is going to need to deliver information in the easiest to absorb way – and leave room for people to think about the topic.
If the topic is covered a lot, or you are giving a talk to peers on a subject, then making your chosen topic really sing can be difficult.
In the early stages of planning, you will be running through a range of ideas that will make your concept and talk come across how you intend it. You’ll likely be thinking about supportive materials and props like an LED video wall or music and maybe a talk partner.
It becomes your job to teach, inspire, welcome questions, and so much more.
So how can you do it in the best way possible? Here are some simple and actionable tips for delivering a talk that packs a punch.
You know the saying that content is king? Well, in this case, it is all about the story. We all know that people want to listen to a story and identify parts that are applicable to them. Storytelling is a powerful tool for businesses. So the jump to storytelling in delivery isn’t hard. In fact, this is talking teaching back to the basics. Instead of telling the story around a fire pit, you’ll be on a stage. Don’t simply give the information, deliver it with a story, after all, stories are how we enjoy getting information and how we get excited about something.
Be you from start to finish. The chances are you are giving this talk because the topic is something that you are passionate about and highly qualified to speak on. But the imitation of great speakers might fall flat here. While it is fine to draw inspiration and confidence from other speakers, essentially, they have a style that works for them. Don’t replicate, instead just be you.
There are probably many tangents that you can travel down while covering the topic you have chosen. The problem is that it can make the information muddy. Your audience might be left trying to work out what the main points were, and may not follow the train of thought. Look at the time you have as a gift. In that time, you are free to explore, in-depth, a topic of your choice. Stay focused and on message. Unless you are an incredible storyteller, who can get people from A to B even with some winding and detours, then shoot. If you aren’t sure, just go for the jugular on the main topic.
Sure, you probably want to have a range of information and facts and figures. But people work on a deeper level when it comes to talks. Get specific, and talk about how something would feel, textures, smells, and tastes. A great example is when you say ‘tastes like chicken’ no matter what it is about, everyone will consider their last experience of eating chicken. This gives people the space to apply real-world experiences to what you are talking about.
While people do like to look up to someone, they don’t always want to hear a talk from someone who comes across as perfect. After all, ‘regular life’ is more relatable. It is not a bad thing to share your failures, so long as you share how you moved forward and what you learned. Discovering as you go, can show people that they can do the same thing. Inspiration can come from hearing from someone who didn’t give up, rather than someone who never had any failures.
This also means that if you stumble over some words, just pick it up and carry on. A perfect talk isn’t always interesting. Talks that elicit emotions and get people interested are typically authentic – bumbles and all.
This one only counts if you are giving a talk to people who aren’t in your field and perhaps on new topics and theories. The best way to do this is to think about every member of your audience as someone that you deeply care about but has zero understanding of the topic. When you are writing your talk, keep it stripped back but include all of the information that really matters. Avoid jargon. Technical terms are required from time to time, but how much is needed is up to you.
As the time to hit the stages arrives, you will likely get a rise of big bouncy energy. And you will need some of that for the talk, but in the first few minutes to rush can be overwhelming.
Try to do something in the hour before that burns some of that energy off. However, you can harness all of the raw energy to pull an amazing talk out of the bag. The energy that you present on stage is going to be infectious. The fear of public speaking sits with most people, even those incredibly seasoned speakers. Use it.
Be prepared for questions about the topic you have covered – but be prepared for questions that might feel out of the box too. If you have published works or have had coverage, then chances are people want to talk to you about it. Welcome a Q&A, but get ready to go more in-depth on the topic.
And finally, when you are writing your talk, try to think in threes. Three is a powerful tool in photography and storytelling alike. What three things do you need to get across? What should three terms be the take-home? Can you break the talk into thirds in order to give a smooth delivery? If we are trying to pack in too much, three things can help us cut the excess, include the real meat of the topic and give a talk that really delivers both for you and your audience.